Pharm Fresh

The foodie alter-ego of a pharmacy student

Buttermilk Lemon Bars April 6, 2009

Filed under: cookies/bars,dessert,fruit — pharmfresh @ 7:22 pm
Tags: , , ,

I love summer.  For someone who has been in school for 17 out of 22 years of her life, summer means freedom.  Waking up late, playing outside, swimming.  This year, summer means the chance to read a real book (not a textbook!), no studying for 3 solid months, and finally, finally, a break.

We only have 4 more weeks of school.  I’m finding it very hard to study when it’s sunny outside.  All I want to do is go outside and play.

These lemon bars, to me, are the epitome of summer.  There’s something about lemons that just brings to mind sunshine and warmth.  And since it’s currently April and STILL SNOWING….well, I needed something summery.

img_3668

I’m not usually a huge fan of lemon bars.  I’ve only had them a few times before, and they’ve always either seemed overwhelmingly sweet or way too tart.  The buttermilk in these bars seems to balance both quite well.  It mellows out the sharp tartness of the lemons and adds a creaminess that balances the sweetness.   They’re still quite tart, but it’s not the kind biting acidity that lemon flavored foods can sometimes have.

I would recommend making sure that the bars are very cold before trying to cut them.  The filling is very smooth and custardy, which makes them pretty messy to cut unless they’ve had time to solidify in the fridge or freezer.  Since lemon is the main (and really only) flavor in this dessert, I strongly recommend using freshly squeezed lemon juice.  I’ve found that bottled lemon juice tends to have much more of that acidic bite, and usually has a very unappetizing aftertaste.  The recipe only calls for 1/2 cup of juice, which is very easy to squeeze by hand, and it really makes all the difference.

img_3671

Buttermilk Lemon Bars

Adapted from: Baking Bites

Makes: about 16 (2 inch x 2 inch) bars

Crust

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

1/3 c. granulated sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

1 tbsp. lemon zest

1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, room temperature

Filling

4 eggs

1 1/3 c. granulated sugar

1/2 c. buttermilk

1/2 c. lemon juice, freshly squeezed (about 4 large lemons)

1 tbsp. lemon zest

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease an 8×8 (0r 9×9) inch square pan.

2) In a medium bowl, combine all the crust ingredients except the butter.  Mix well.

3) Using two knives, a pastry blender or (my favorite) your hands, mix in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Press the crust mixture evenly onto the bottom of the greased pan.

4)  Bake for 16-19 minutes until just lightly browned.

5) While the crust is baking, whisk together all of the filling ingredients in another bowl.

6) Pour the filling mixture onto the crust while it is still hot and bake for another 20 minutes.  The filling should not jiggle when gently shaken.

7) Cool completely, then cut into bars.  Dust with powdered sugar to serve.

 

Scotcheroos January 25, 2009

Filed under: cookies/bars,dessert — pharmfresh @ 4:07 pm
Tags: , , ,

img_3107

I’ve been really lucky this year to make some fast and fabulous friends here at Ferris.  We go out together on the weekends, sit together in class, and lately, we’ve been studying together as well.  Since I live by myself, I usually have everyone over to my house, which has worked out really well.  This semester, we’ve started doing regular study sessions instead of whenever we randomly decide to get together.  Everyone’s coming over later on today, so I decided it would be nice to feed them for once.  Plus, this gives me an excuse to make some things that I wouldn’t normally make for just myself! (Because, really, do I need an entire pan of these?  Probably not!)

For the majority of my life, I’ve known these delicious little treats as “Susan’s Rice Krispie Treats.”  My mom’s friend Susan gave her the recipe ages ago, and every once in a while my mom would make these for my sister and I as special treats.  It was only a few years ago that I found out what they were really called.  I’m going to hazard a guess that scotcheroos is not the only name given to these, but it’s the one I’ve heard the most often.

These are like super pumped-up Rice Krispie treats — there’s peanut butter in the mixture instead of marshmallow, and once set, they’re topped with a mixture of melted chocolate, butterscotch and peanut butter. I’m a huge fan of anything with the combination of peanut butter and chocolate, and adding butterscotch to the mix makes these even better!

These are best kept at room temperature, as refrigeration makes them relatively hard and brittle, and very hard to chew!  If you need to refrigerate them for some reason, just bring them back to room temperature before trying to eat them.

Scotcheroos

Source: my mom’s friend Susan

Makes: about 20

img_3071

2/3 c. granulated sugar

2/3 c. light corn syrup

3/4 c. creamy peanut butter

1 tsp. vanilla

6 c. crispy rice cereal

1 c. butterscotch chips

1/2 c. semisweet chocolate chips

2 tbsp. creamy peanut butter

img_3070

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, stir together the corn syrup and sugar.  Stir until sugar is dissolved.

img_3073 img_3074

Once the sugar has dissolved, add the vanilla and 3/4 c. peanut butter.  Stir until smooth.

img_3076

Remove the pan from the heat and add the crisped rice cereal.  Stir until thoroughly coated.

img_3078

Spread the mixture evenly into a greased 9×13 inch pan.

img_3080

In a microwave safe bowl, combine the butterscotch chips, chocolate chips, and 2 tbsp. peanut butter.  Microwave in 1 minute intervals, mixing each time, until completely melted and smooth.

img_3081

Spread the melted mixture evenly over the rice krispie mixture.  Let set for about an hour.  The chocolate/butterscotch mixture won’t completely harden, but it should reach close the consistency of fudge.




 

Orange Cranberry Biscotti July 7, 2008

Filed under: biscotti,cookies/bars,fruit — pharmfresh @ 1:04 am
Tags: , ,

First of all, sorry I haven’t posted in a little bit.  My boyfriend and I just got back from our vacation in Las Vegas!  We had a fantastic time, even though it was ridiculously hot.  I can honestly say that I have never sweated that much in my entire life.  I probably lost at least 5 pounds in water weight, which I, unfortunately, more than made up for with all the fabulous food that we ate.  Our two favorite restaurants were La Salsa in Caesar’s Palace and the Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grille at the MGM Grand.  La Salsa finally gave me the chance to prove to Matt that Mexican food can be so much better than most of the stuff we have in Michigan.  I lived in Texas for 8 years, and sorely miss the amazing Mexican food we used to get down there.  Wolfgang Puck’s was a little bit more upscale and fancy, but their food was absolutely delicious.  I got the ricotta gnocchi, and the bolognese sauce that came with it was hands down the best I have ever had.  Ever.  So, if you ever go to Vegas, make sure to check those two restaurants out!

We definitely didn’t come home any richer than we were when we left, and much to the disappointment of my parents, we didn’t get married while we were down there, either.  Nevertheless, it was a great and much needed vacation!

But now, back to the cooking…

I made biscotti for my mom a few days before we left for Vegas.  Biscotti are long, crunchy Italian cookies made for dipping in coffee (though they’re pretty delicious dipped in milk, too).  Personally, I’ve never been a huge fan of them.  I like my cookies soft and chewy, and these definitely are not either.  But, on the bright side, they do taste good dipped in milk, which softens them a little bit.  And what cookie doesn’t taste better after it’s been dipped in milk?  They’re my mom’s favorite, so I try to make some for her every few weeks.  Plus, most biscotti don’t have any butter or oil in them, so they’re a lot healthier than say, a chocolate chip cookie.

This recipe does call for butter, which is the only one I’ve ever seen that does.  The butter makes them a little bit softer, and more cake-like, which I actually prefer.  Make sure and fully zest the oranges so that you get a nice punch of orange flavor.  You can substitute some other kind of dried fruit if you’re not a fan of cranberries, but I think that the cranberry and orange flavors work really well together here.

The preparation for these can get a little bit complicated — most call for a little bit of kneading before shaping into one or two logs of a certain length and thickness.  I’ve done it the long way, and then I’ve done it my mom’s way, which means dumping the dough onto a greased cookie sheet, and then flattening it down with my hands into a somewhat log-shaped mound.  They turn out great either way.  So, if you want to do it the long way the first time, just to get the real, fancy biscotti-making feeling, go for it!  But if you’re pressed for time, the shortcut way will work just fine.

Don’t, however, skip the second bake time step.  In order for these cookies to get really hard and crunchy, they need to be baked twice.

Orange Cranberry Biscotti

Makes 20-30 biscotti, depending on thickness

1/2 c. butter

3/4 c. granulated sugar

2 eggs

2 tbsp. orange zest (roughly 2 oranges, fully zested)

2 tbsp. orange juice

2 1/4 c. flour

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 c. chopped dried cranberries

3/4 c. toasted and chopped almonds

1) Cream butter and sugar.  Mix in eggs, one at a time.  Stir in orange zest and juice.

2) Sift together the flour, baking power and salt, then stir into the creamed orange mixture.

3) Fold in the cranberries and almonds.

4) On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough 3-4 times, just until it is smooth.  Separate the dough in to two equal halves.

5) Roll each half into a log about 1.5 inches wide and 10 inches long (but seriously, don’t whip out the measuring tape or anything…an approximation will work out just fine).  Place the rolls on a greased cookie sheet, and flatten slightly.

6) Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until firm to the touch and slightly browned around the edges.

7) Cool for 10-15 minutes, or until you can comfortably touch the baked logs.

8 ) Using a long, serrated knife, cut the logs crosswise, at a diagonal, into roughly 1/2 inch slices.  Place each slice cut-side down on the cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes.  Flip the cookies over, and bake for 10 minutes more.

 

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies June 24, 2008

Filed under: chocolate,cookies/bars,dessert — pharmfresh @ 7:28 pm
Tags: , ,

For some reason, chocolate chip cookies have always been the one thing that I just can not get to turn out right.  I mean, seriously, they’re one dessert staple that every mom, grandma, and novice home cook in America can whip out in seconds, and I just can not master them!  Not fair!  Mine would either come out burned on the edges and raw in the middle, or so completely rock hard that it was better to use them as mini frisbees instead of actually trying to eat them.  I actually gave up on making cookies for a quite a while, and instead concentrated on mastering other dishes.  Luckily for me, I never had as much of a problem with anything else!

Everything changed though, when I discovered this recipe.  Someone posted it a year or so ago on a Livejournal food community, aptly named Food Porn, and they looked so great that I just had to try them.

These really are the perfect chocolate chip cookies. The batter is packed with chips, nuts and oatmeal — a lot more than any other cookie recipe I’ve made.  And they’ve turned out perfectly every time I’ve made them, even when I used a different oven and different cookie sheets.  They get crispy on the outside, but stay deliciously chewy in the middle, even after storing them for a few days.  The oatmeal adds a nice texture, and probably has a little bit to do with keeping the middles chewy.

If you have a stand mixer, I would definitely use it for this recipe.  The batter gets extremely thick after you add the chips, oatmeal and optional nuts.  My handheld mixer couldn’t do it without sounding like it was about to blow up, and the one time I mixed it by hand, I thought my arm was going to fall off.  If you do have to mix it by hand, use a big, sturdy wooden spoon, and just keep telling yourself that it’s not every day you get to work out and make cookies at the same time.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Makes about 6-7 dozen cookies, depending on size

1 c. vegetable shortening

3/4 c. brown sugar

3/4 c. granulated sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. hot water

1 1/2 c. flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

1 c. chopped nuts (optional)

2 packages chocolate chips

2 c. oatmeal

1) Cream the shortening and both sugars.  Add eggs, one at a time, then vanilla and water, mixing until smooth.

2) In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt and oatmeal.  Add to shortening and egg mixture.

3) Once combined, stir in the chocolate chips and optional nuts.

4) Spoon tablespoonfuls of batter onto a greased cookie sheet, leaving enough room for cookies to spread slightly. (I could fit 12 onto each cookie sheet.)

5) Bake at 375 degrees for 8 minutes.